Sega?s famous deteriorating mascot is celebrating the launch of Microsoft?s Kinect with another Mario Kart clone. Although there is a lot game and plenty to unlock, the overall experience is more than frustrating due to the unresponsive control scheme.
Going controller free, players will position themselves as if standing on a skateboard. Squatting makes the player go faster, bending at the hip steers left and right, jumping makes the player jump, and kicking your foot across the floor can provide a speed boost. This all sounds simple and straightforward, but because every single one of these actions is unresponsive with a tremendous amount of lag, even playing through the game?s opening tutorial is a disaster.
Speaking of the tutorial, it took me almost an hour to play through each of the game?s many tutorial lessons. Jumping and performing tricks causes the most problems. Because there about a one second delay from your actions to what your onscreen avatar does, the player can no longer rely on instinct, but rather must compensate for the delay in all actions. This was also tested in both dark and well lit rooms as well as standing different differences from the Kinect hardware.
If you see a jump coming, you will have to jump before your avatar hits the ramp in order for the game to register your action. Making matters worse, the trick system is rather flawed and even the tutorial itself gives the player the wrong instruction. During the ?how to do a trick? tutorial, there is a little stick figure animation that demonstrations the action that you need to do ? it shows a 180 degree twist jump. After about a dozen fails, I realized that the camera needs to pick up a 360 degree spin in order to pull off a trick and let me move on to the next tutorial.
Because there is so much delay between your actions to what your avatar does, racing becomes nothing but frustrating. If you want to turn left for example, you will need to bend in that direction. But since there is a delay, the player will wind up overcompensating for the turn, resulting in continuous wall bumps. Even the developers seemed to realize this problem as each track is composed mostly of straight-aways. Besides racing, the player also can play with other objectives such as ?collect 100 rings before time runs out.? During this stage, with my best attempt, I managed to collect 32 rings before I rage quit. How can the player be expected to accurately grab rings when it is so difficult to steer through basic curves?
Even if the racing mode had accurate controls, the player still has to deal with the completely cumbersome menu navigation. Like using a rotary phone, the player must dial through then drag the selection to the next button. When it takes about 60 seconds to just move to the next screen, you are in the running for the worst menu system of all time. There were times when the camera was picking up my hand movements, because of the glowing wisp icon was displayed, but still would not register in the rotary phone menu screen – frustrating beyond belief.
When you are not using your feet and legs during a race, the player is also required to use arm motions to grab rings and to use items. During the tutorial, the game teaches the player to hold your arms straight up to grab higher rings. However, I almost punched a hole through my ceiling by combining this action with a jump, forgetting that I was inside. The knuckle-to-the-ceiling punch probably bruised my ego more than my hand.
If you manage to somehow play through the horrendous control scheme, the player will be treated to quite a bit of gameplay and unlockables. Besides the story mode, there are a number of multiplayer modes, both off and online to participate in. Unlocking new boards, courses, and characters are plentiful and can provide a nice extra incentive to keep Kinecting. But since the control scheme is almost unplayable, I cannot image why anyone would want to suffer through this.
It is clearly seen that there was a lot of work put into all the extra content, but it is a wonder why more attention wasn?t given to the game?s story mode presentation. Instead of typical brightly colored Sonic cutscenes, the player has to trudge through still images behind a bad TV filter effect to explain the story. The voice actors do a decent job of portraying these cartoony characters, but the dialog between them is agonizing. This part of the game probably fell under the, ?hey, we have to hurry up and make this game before the Kinect launches? syndrome.
Sonic Free Riders is the Mario Kart of Kinect, but the unresponsive control scheme will have players aching for a standard controller. If you have the patience to deal with the laggy control scheme, you will find that there is a decent amount of content in Free Riders; too bad most players won?t ever want to see it.
Not As Good As: playing a game with a standard controller
Also Try: real life snowboarding, skateboarding, or karate punching through your wall
Wait For It: a good Kinect game
Follow MyGamer on Twitter: www.twitter.com/mygamernews